Lucknow: A day after he brushed aside as “hypothetical” the question whether he was planning to cross over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress sources said on Saturday that former Union Minister Jitin Prasada may contest the Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow against Rajnath Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A party source close to Prasada told IANS: “He may contest the polls against Rajnath Singh from Lucknow.”
“The party is likely to shift him to Lucknow to give Rajnath Singh a tough fight,” the source said. It also refuted claims that Prasada may join the BJP ahead of the general elections.
The source also said the Congress has shifted state unit President Raj Babbar to Fatehpur Sikri. The party had earlier announced Babbar as its candidate from Moradabad.
Lucknow is considered a strong bastion of the saffron party as it has not lost a single election from here since 1991. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had represented Lucknow from 1991 to 2004.
In 2009, the BJP’s Lalji Tandon won from the high profile constituency after Vajpayee retired from active politics.
In 2014, Rajnath Singh contested from here and won by a huge margin against Congress’ Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who in October 2016 crossed over to the BJP.
The name of Prasada figured in the list of 11 candidates announced for the state on March 7.
According to party leaders, by fielding Prasada, who is a Brahmin, the Congress will eye to garner around 3.5 lakh votes of the community, which have gone away from it post the implementation of the Mandal Commission in 1991.
As per the 2011 census, Hindus constitute about 77 per cent of Lucknow’s population followed by Muslims (21 per cent), Brahmins (11 per cent) and Thakurs (8 per cent).
Prasada, who lost 2014 elections from the Dhaurahra constituency, was a Minister of State in the UPA-I and UPA-II governments led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In 2004, he won from Shahjahanpur and in 2009 from Dhaurahra.
Prasada also contested the 2017 Assembly elections, but lost to Roshan Lal Verma of the BJP.